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'Clouds' - Hot air to reality!

Time to act. As the economic crisis forces Europe to take a hard look at expenditures, recurring themes tend to arise around aspects such as streamlining staffing costs, evaluating green energy, and achieving economies of scale. Over the last few years we’ve seen a number of experts, dedicated projects and standard organisations formulate groups to discuss the true nature of cloud computing. The spread of virtualisation and cloud technologies in the commercial sector has become potentially attractive in the academic research arena, especially for public e-Infrastructures.

As the forecast becomes clear, the ability to provision resources ‘on-demand’ to meet the needs of particular research collaborations and the implementation of cloud computing and business models have shown the use of virtualisation to deliver ‘Infrastructure as a Service’, hosted environments to provide a ‘Platform as a Service’ and hosted applications to access ‘Software as a Service’.

ICT policies and services tailored to the current e-Infrastructure user communities do not always meet the needs of new communities. EGI needs to continue to evolve its service offerings in order to provide a more flexible, efficient e-Infrastructure to attract new users from all disciplines and simply cannot allow itself the luxury of staying passive and conducting ‘business as usual’.

It is under these contexts that we have started to define how to better address the evolving user needs by exploiting these emerging technologies and developing a vision for the future of the infrastructure. A dedicated report on integration of clouds and virtualisation into the European production infrastructure (http://go.egi.eu/258) has now been made available to build the foundation for the integration of clouds and virtualisation into the EGI. It provides a detailed analysis of the technology benefits and issues, economical aspects of delivering the new services, with a short- and long-term view for identifying why, where and how these technologies have a place within the EGI.

The decision on which technology to invest and how to deploy and use it is not straightforward and the need to coordinate the development of multiple technologies within the current operating infrastructure, given the impact and investment needed to make these changes, means building a consensus across all of EGI’s stakeholders. Based on the analysis and the context set out by the document, recent events and related roadmaps, a dedicated workshop will be organised by late spring 2011 to gather feedback towards a federated virtualised infrastructure (http://go.egi.eu/jngxd). Through the direct engagement with you over the next few months and the production of a defined roadmap, EGI.eu will ensure that available opportunities will be thoroughly evaluated and a solution deployed, to answer the growing need for virtualised resources and to ensure the infrastructure continues to evolve for the current and new user communities it serves.

Simply saying the word “cloud” just doesn’t cut it anymore. Will you join us to make it a reality?

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